The recent WhatsApp fiasco in Brazil was a eye-opener to the world, since more than a 100 million people were affected by it for no fault of theirs. In order to avoid further incidents like this one, a Brazilian congressional commission today recommended a bill that prohibits authorities from blocking popular messaging applications.
The already existing bill allows the judiciary to regulate the suspension of websites and applications like WhatsApp used for crimes such as drugs and arms trafficking. The bill presented by the congressional commission seeks to remove messaging apps from this bill since these suspensions do not in any way fulfill their objectives.
A judge named Marcel Montalvao from a court in Sergipe recently banned the use of WhatsApp in the country for 72 hours. This was because the makers of this Facebook-owned messaging platform failed to turn over chat records related to an apparent drug investigation, as directed by authorities.
However, the company’s argument is that its app features full end-to-end encryption which even they aren’t able to breach. The ban was thankfully lifted by another judge within about 24 hours, but it did manage to create a large enough debate to warrant the suggestion of this new bill.
This was not the first time such a ban was imposed as well. Back in December last year, WhatsApp was blacked out for not taking down illicit photos of minors, whereas March saw Facebook’s Latin America Vice President getting arrested for a brief period over failing to hand over user data.
It’s these kinds of incidents that the lawmakers who have proposed the new bill are trying to avoid in the future. However, it will have to pass in two houses now in order for WhatsApp to become safe in Brazil.